Pioneers Open with Stunning Comeback Win Over Yale

Junior Shane Gibson
Junior Shane Gibson

WEST HARTFORD, CT (November 10, 2012) – In the 1,000th career game for head coach Dave Bike, his  Sacred Heart men's basketball team erased a 24-point second half Yale lead to come away with the largest comeback victory in the program's Division I history, beating the Bulldogs in overtime, 85-82, in the Connecticut 6 Classic.  Senior Shane Gibson (Killingly, CT) led the furious comeback with 24 of his 29 points coming in the second half and overtime.

The Pioneers (1-0) were down 24-points with 15:34 left in the second half and appeared headed for a disappointing start to the 2012-13 season in game two of the annual CT6 Classic triple-header, this year held at Chase Family Arena at the University of Hartford.  Gibson and the Pioneers dug in and thanks to a pair of 11-0 spurts clawed their way back to tie and finally win it in overtime.

SHU overcame a dismal first half that saw Yale (0-1) build a 44-28 lead at the break thanks to 51.9% shooting including a 11-of-17 effort at the free throw line by the Bulldogs.  The Pioneers shot 50.0% themselves but turned the ball over 11 times and were just three of seven at the charity stripe in the first half.

There were six lead changes in the first half but Yale jumped out in front thanks to a 15-4 run fueled by three's from Austin Morgan and Armani Cotton.  The Bulldog lead hit double digits at 32-22 and after a Sam Martin three and Justin Sears put back, the Pioneers used a time-out to slow the momentum chasing 14 with 4:22 left.  Yale did a great job of keeping Gibson in check, holding the prolific scorer to just five points on four shots.

The Yale lead hit its high water mark at 15:35 when Michael Grace laid one in on the fast break for a 61-37 advantage.   The Pioneers began to chip away and pulled within 61-48 with 11:51 left thanks to an 11-0 runs.  The Bulldogs went five minutes without a bucket before Morgan ended the drought with a three at 10:05.  A dunk by Sears was followed by Morgan's sixth three of the night to push the Yale lead back to 19, 69-50, with 9:13 to go.

From there, it was all Sacred Heart as the Pioneers closed the second half and overtime outscoring Yale 35-13.  Down 71-52 with 8:38 left, SHU ripped off a 14-0 run to cut it to 71-66 with 3:34 left.  Gibson drilled a three on the run and freshman Tevin Falzon (Newton, MA) battled underneath for a putback.

Yale's Morgan ended the SHU rally a second time, coming off a screen and burying a jumper just inside the three point line.  SHU pulled within 73-70 on a sophomore Phil Gaetano (Wallingford, CT) take to the hoop and after a Yale miss, Gibson hit a floater in the lane to cut it to one with 1:10 left.

The Bulldogs wen to Morgan and he got loose and into lane, drawing a foul.  Morgan made bothto put his team back up three with 45 seconds left.   SHU gain pulled within one as Gaetano got the ball in down deep to junior Louis Montes (Brockton, MA) who finished with 18 ticks left.    Forced to foul, SHU sent Morgan to the line off the inbounds but he hit just one of two with 13 seconds left to give the Pioneers the ball down two for the final possession.  Morgan scored 13 of Yale's final 15 points in regulation.

The Pioneers went right to Gibson and the senior delivered, beating his defender and making his way to the hoop where he finished strong with the right with eight seconds left, tying it at 76-76.  The SHU defense locked down Yale and the Bulldogs attempt at a game-winner never materialized before the horn.

Yale shot out of the gates in overtime and opened a five point lead, 82-77, with 2:30 left.  The Pioneers pulled within one on a jumper by Gibson and a Justin Swidowski (Cinamminson, NJ) put-back of his own miss with 1:27 left.  Montes went to the free throw line with 1:08 left with a chance to give SHU the lead but couldn't hit either shot.  Gibson dug out the offense rebound and kept the possession alive when Swidowski drew a foul with 55 seconds left and took his turn at the line.

Swidowski buried both and then grabbed a defensive carom off a Morgan miss a the other end giving SHU a chance to extend the lead.  Yale fouled r-sophomore Steve Glowiak (New Britain, CT) with 19 seconds left and he buried both for an 85-82 lead.  Yale missed the mark on a pair of three's in the closing seconds to secure the unbelievable comeback victory.

The 24-point comeback eclipses a 20-point comeback two years ago for the largest second half deficit overcome in a win in Division I history.  The Pioneers came back to beat Hartford at home in 2010-11 when trailing by 20 points in the second half.

The Pioneers flipped the switch in the second half and overcame being outrebounded 16-12 in the first half to finish with a 41-29 edge on the glass.  The result, 24 second chance points and a 42-30 scoring advantage in the paint.  SHU shot 50.8% (30-59) as a team in the win while Yale hit 46.6% (27-58).

Gibson's 29 points came on 11-of-21 shooting from the field including three triples.  Montes rebounded from a two point, two rebound first half to finish with 11 points and 10 rebounds for his fifth career double double.  Swidowski finished with 17 points, making all nine of his free throws.

The Pioneers are right back in action on Monday night when they travel to Rutgers to take on the Scarlet Knights.  SHU is looking to snap an 0-16 streak against teams from the Big East Conference.  Tip-off is slated for 7:30 pm.